Data Graphics

Design Patterns

Example Color Schemes

Related Work

EOS End of the Rainbow


Related Work

The material listed here provides a basic introduction to various aspects of color in the display of data, including color theory, ways of specifying color, and the mechanics of the display of color.

Web Pages:

  • ColorBrewer
    Cindy Brewer's web application that demonstrates sequential, diverging, and qualitative color schemes (and provides the specifications of those schemes in several different color spaces).

  • EFG's Color Reference Page
    Earl F. Glynn's comprehensive web page with references and links to general information on color, links to many web pages and reference sources, and software.

  • COLORS -- Color Coordinate Conversion
    John Burkhardt's library of Fortran 90 color-conversion routines (e.g. for converting RGB to HSV).

  • Visibone
    Source for handy color charts intended for web page construction (but generally applicable), including some simulations of the appearance of the charts to color-deficient viewers.

  • WhatColor 4
    Small MS Windows application for determining the color of individual screen pixels (and copying an existing color scheme).

Web resources with a particular focus on color-deficiency:

  • Designing for the Color-Challenged: A Challenge
    T.G. Wolfmaier, Internetworking 2.1 (Internet Technical Group Newsletter) March 1999
    Thomas Wolfmaier's discussion of the issues arising in designing for color-deficient viewers.  Includes a Java application demonstrating the simulation of how different kinds of color-deficient viewers may perceive particular colors specified by the user.

  • Safe Web Colours for Colour-Deficient Vision
    Christine Rigden's excellent web page that offer's a clear description of the physical basis of color blindness.  Includes palettes for Adobe Photoshop that allow simple simulation of how an image may appear to a color-deficient viewer.

  • Java Applets on Colour Vision Deficiencies
    Hans Brettel's applets for simulation the appearance of colors to color-deficient viewers.  See also H. Brettel, F. Viénot, and J. D. Mollon (1997) Computerized simulation of color appearance for dichromats. Journal of the Optical Society of America 14:2647-2655.


  • Fortner, B, and T Meyer. 1997. Number by Colors: A Guide to Using Color to Understand Technical Data: Telos (Springer).  (A general introduction to color, and the issues that arise in its display.  Includes a good description of the different ways of specifying colors, as well as the physics of color perception.)

  • Ware, C. 2004. Information Visualization: Perception for Design, Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies: Morgan Kaufmann.  (A general discussion of the elements of graphic display and perception.)

  • Spence, R. 2000. Information Visualization: Addison Wesley.  (Provides a general introduction to information display, including some of the more recently developed visualization techniques.)

  • Fraser, T., and A. Banks. 2004. Designer's Color Manual: The Complete Guide to Color Theory and Application: Chronicle Books.  (An excellent introduction to color, including its application in print and computer displays.  In particular, it describes the relationship between the RGB specification of color used for computer display, and the CMYK specification used in printing.  Some of the more artistic images may be objectionable to some viewers.)

  • Foley, J.D., A. van Dam, S.K. Feiner, and J.F. Hughes. 1995. Computer Graphics:  Principles and Practice. 2nd ed, Addison-Wesley Systems Programming Series. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.  (The basic handbook of the elements of computer graphics, including algorithms for conversions among different systems for specifying colors, and for display of objects and surfaces.)

  • Tufte, E.R. 2001. The Visual display of Quantitative Information. 2nd ed. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.

  • Tufte, E.R. 1990. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.

  • Tufte, E.R. 1997. Visual Explanations : Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.

  • Tufte, E.R. 2003. The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.
    (Tufte's books are well regarded for their discussion of aims and means of graphical display.  They are often more proscriptive than prescriptive in their discussion of specific techniques and designs.)


Department of Geography, University of Oregon
last modified 02/12/2007 10:42 PM